There are two ways to get help with fire-related projects. One is through an informal phone call or e-mail. The second is a formal written process.
Informal request for FMI staff assistance
The easiest method of proposing a project is to call one of the FMI staff members or e-mail FMI to determine whether FMI has the staff and resources available to handle your particular needs. Be sure you contact a staff member (not a cooperator) with your questions because the staff is the most knowledgable on FMI procedures and resources that are available to assist you. These members can decide whether your project request should be handled informally through them, or if your particular needs require a complete, formal written proposal for FMI (see below). Most of the time, the proposal process is informal and staff is happy to assist you. Be prepared to clearly state your project needs, goals, and any funding available for the work when you contact a staff member.
Formal request process
Organizations and people with larger, complex projects should request assistance from FMI by submitting a 1-3 page proposal describing the project and identifying areas of collaboration. Proposals include justification of the project, who is involved, how the project will be completed, budget, and timeline. The following is a recommended format for proposals:
1. Champion – The FMI contact that will be in charge of the project
2. Justification – The reasons for doing the project
3. Objective – A concise statement describing the purpose of the proposal
4. Methods – A brief description of the proposed methods used to accomplish this objective
5. Products – A comprehensive list of the products developed from the project that can be evaluated to determine project success.
6. Personnel – A list of the people who will be involved in this project outside of FMI including contractors, volunteers, and gov’t employees
7. Timeline – A concise schedule of major project phases with a clear ending date
8. Budget – The amount of funding provided by the proposing agency to complete the project.
The proposals are submitted to FMI through their champion. The champion would then present the proposed project to the other three FMI leaders. They will evaluate the proposal and decide on its acceptance within a week.
Proposals are evaluated based on three criteria in the following order of importance:
1) The level of collaboration
2) The technique involved
3) The available FMI resources
There are three levels of collaboration recognized by FMI. The highest level is where the proposing institution would supply both funding and personnel to successfully accomplish the project. The participating agency person would be an active participant in project development. At the second level, the institution would supply either funding or personnel. At the third level of collaboration, the institution would contract FMI to perform the entire project without supplying any funding or personnel.
The technique involved in developing the project is classified as either standard analytical technology or novel technology. Since FMI is based in both research and management, higher emphasis will be given to those projects that use novel methods or develop novel products. Ideally, all FMI projects will be published so it is important that the project contain some elements of state-of-the-art methods and products. Projects that involve performing standard analytical tasks that have been done many times by many agencies will receive lower priorities.
FMI resources include both FMI personnel and computing resources. Large simulation projects that require simulation resources beyond the capability of the Fire Sciences Laboratory will require additional funding for off-site computing.
In general, if collaboration is high and FMI resources are available, the project is likely to be approved. However, the Washington office is the primary client of FMI, and in keeping with the principles of the Fire Modeling Institute, staff specialists give priority to solving the questions, problems and other issues that the Washington office requests.
The FMI champion will notify the proposing institution and initiate the project.